Nikki Preston

Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

More cruise ships to hit Auckland

Millions should be added to city economy with operators increasing number of visits and extending season.

P&O's Pacific Pearl is docked alongside Princes Wharf in Auckland. Photo / Sarah Ivey
P&O's Pacific Pearl is docked alongside Princes Wharf in Auckland. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Auckland can expect a boost of millions to the economy with a record number of cruise ships hitting our shores.

New Zealand's cruise market has grown in the past five years and is set to be further buoyed by two operators increasing their visits.

P&O is doubling the number of cruises operating from Auckland over the next couple of years and extending its season.

This year, during its May to June season, it offered eight cruises. It will add two extra cruises and the season will run from April to June next year, and by 2016 20 cruises will be offered between February and June.

Each turnaround cruise ship visit is estimated to deliver about $1 million to the local economy in passenger accommodation, dining, transport and shopping, as well as crew expenditure, supplies and port charges.

Adding two more ships to P&O's fleet has freed up the Pacific Pearl cruise liner to further target Kiwi and Australian travellers by operating 18 round trips both around New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, as well as two Auckland-Sydney sailings.

And Princess Cruises - owned by the same company as P&O - says it will make 210 visits to North and South Island ports this year, with the number rising to 230 by next year.

The company offers round-trip cruises to New Zealand on four ships sailing from Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.

Brett Jardine, of the Cruise Lines International Association Australasia, said cruises were a huge boost for the local economy as it was impossible for any overseas visitor to go directly from the airport to the port so they would be staying in Auckland both before and after their cruise.

"At the end of the day, the cruise ships that go out of Auckland are not just [for] Kiwis. They are marketed all around the world. You've got a big audience coming from Australia coming in on those ships."

The cruise industry contributed $310 million to New Zealand's economy in 2013, with $115.5 million going to Auckland.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development Agency tourism manager Jason Hill said the cruise industry had gone from being worth $63 million to $115.5 million to Auckland in the past five years.

Along with the traditional spending of passengers buying souvenirs and gifts, the ships also restocked supplies including vegetables and New Zealand wines.

While Auckland would benefit from New Zealanders coming from outside the city to take a cruise, Mr Hill expected the majority of P&O's passengers to be from Australia, which had the biggest benefit for the city.

He said that globally, cruising was increasing at a huge rate and New Zealand was particularly benefiting from the growth coming out of Asia.

Last year, 89 cruise ships visited Auckland bringing in 162,000 passengers and crew.

While the number of ships was slightly down, Mr Hill said this was expected as the cruise liners became larger and brought in more people.

Gold Coast sunshine calls ... but it's off to Wellington

The thought of hitting an Aussie hot-spot to escape the winter chills tempts Kiwis more than any other holiday destination.

Queensland's Gold Coast and Brisbane topped the list of destinations Kiwis would most like to visit in the next two years, says Roy Morgan Research.

Five overseas destinations were in New Zealanders' top 10, Queenstown was second and Wellington third.

The Bay of Islands was fourth, followed by the United States.

But the places where Kiwis went for their holidays differed from their dream locations.

Wellington was the number one holiday spot, followed by Auckland, Christchurch, Tauranga and Rotorua.

Across the Tasman, Melbourne topped the list of places Australians would most like to visit, as well as being the the place most of them holidayed in the past 12 months.

As recently as 2009, Christchurch was New Zealanders' most visited holiday destination, but it has dropped to third place after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

The figures come from a Roy Morgan Research survey of 11,848 people in New Zealand aged 14-plus, between May last year and April.

- NZ Herald

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